UGANDAN TECH TEAM WINS IGAD CLIMATE CHALLENGE HACKATHON

Team Nandozi comprising of two techies from Uganda are winners of the inaugural IGAD Climate Challenge Hackathon. The team comprising of Isaac Abok and Noah Lubale beat 10 other finalists from East Africa with their video-based mobile game learning application incorporating environmental protection and management tutorials.

For their triumph, Team Nandozi took home 1,500 USD and will benefit from both technical and financial support from partners including UNDP, IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC), ResilientAfrica Network, Safaricom and Kenya Airways to enable them actualise their innovation.

"The games target 10 to 12 year olds increasing their knowledge and awareness about climate change, its negative effects and how to mitigate them with a particular focus on the Horn of Africa. Using their smart phones, the player will have to destroy greenhouse gases using trees, plant trees to counteract carbon emissions among other cool game mechanics that will resonate with the player while educating them at the same time," said Noah Lubale about their winning innovation.

Kenyan Team Bunifu from Baringo emerged second with their 'Skizi SMS' innovation for climate information and early warning dissemination, taking home 1,000 USD; while Team Agri-Gap from Uganda emerged third with their 'Farmers App' that enables farmers make better decisions by accessing climatic information, they took home 500 USD.

The winners were announced after a three-day event coded 'Hack4Climate2016' that brought together techies from the region who sought information technology solutions to climate change and climate induced disasters that affect the people in the Greater Horn of Africa. The solutions for climate change and climate induced disasters were judged based on their sustainability model, cost effectiveness, scalability of the solution and clarity of the implementation plan.

"Drought should never cause famine in the horn of Africa region again. We have the mandate to ensure that we make use of technology to create innovative solutions that impact the communities around us and increases our disaster resilience as a region," said H.E. Ambassador Eng. Mahboub M. Maalim, Executive Secretary at IGAD. "The IGAD climate challenge hackathon seeks to demystify science to the communities that we live with, to create early warning systems and increase knowledge and awareness of the impact of climate change around us," he added.

IGAD CLIMATE RESILIENCE INNOVATION LAB (ICRILAB) will be established to institutionalize innovation at IGAD. ICRILAB will be based at ICPAC with the objective, to generate and implement low cost and high-impact innovative solutions; to bring to scale promising solutions; to identify and nurture talents, and to generate and share knowledge, that address complex climate and disaster risk management issues including those of regional nature. United Nations Development Programme has committed to support the establishment of the ICRILAB Innovation Centre and to the up-scaling of the winning innovations.

"The need for creative, 'out of the box' solutions to a wide range of disaster and development challenges facing the Greater Horn of Africa has led to the creation of this event: We believe the outcome of this event is responding to the various needs of the end users" said Dr Guleid Artan, Director of ICPAC. He added, "We are working towards sustaining an innovation enabling environment and partnership development with the private sector and others through the establishment of ICRILAB."

"Technology is a powerful enabler and vehicle for finding innovative solutions. UNDP firmly believes in youth engagement and use of technology as a powerful combination to finding remedies of complex challenges around us," said Mr. Jose Manzano, Chief Technical Advisor, UNDP. "This is the reason why we are giving the youth a platform to transform their thinking into practical solutions through innovation labs such as ICRILAB to support testing and scaling up of new ways to protect our planet," he added.

"We are interested in innovations that will contribute to the resilience of communities to disasters in Africa," said Dr. Roy Mayega, Deputy Chief of Party, ResilientAfrica Network. "We are keen on availing mentors to the participants, training opportunities in order to ensure that the brilliant solutions created through this challenge are able to be realities in our everyday living," he added.

Notes to the editor:

ICPAC is the specialised IGAD institution based in Nairobi, Kenya mandated to provide timely climate early warning information, which covers IGAD members' states as well as Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. ICPAC provides climate information in the GHA regions to support environment management and disaster risk reduction for sustainable development and supporting specific sector applications to enable the region cope with various risks associated with extreme climate variability and change for poverty alleviation. ICPAC extends its services to four main sectors including water, agriculture, and health and disaster risk management.

Source: Inter Governmental Authority on Development.